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A Walk Through Central Park

Central Park has over 800 acres! Fortunately, we have Janice Williams' memories to guide us, and we can tour the Park with her guidelines. Mostly, the spots Janice recalls are located at the southern end of the park from 66th Street to 85th Street.For prominence, centrality to Guy's and Janice's "prime locations", beauty, and ease of access, the first of these areas is where the bench is.

These areas are: 1) The Olmsted flower bed at the southern end of the Mall's literary walk;

2) Chess and Checkers House;

3) By Bow Bridge;

and 4) Off the Great Lawn.

On a balmy December 1, Wendell Vega and I took a walk through this area Janice outlined. We both snapped pictures, and these pictures are our collective photo album of that walk. So if you enjoy this collection of pictures, please thank Wendell! It was very late in autumn, and the leaves had all fallen. Even then, the Park has a unique and powerful beauty, quiet and insistent that all was not over. It was right. I returned in Spring to capture some greener pictures, and I'll be updating the site with additional snapshots, too.

Wendell and I followed the "Guy and Janice Walk"; we entered the Park at 66th Street, going past Tavern on the Green to Sheep Meadow - on our way to the Olmsted flower bed and plaza. This plaza is one of the Park’s more formal areas, named for one of the Park's designers. From Sheep Meadow, you turn onto the Mall and walk below a canopy of old American elms lined with benches (Jim Henson has a bench here). These elms are beautiful. They have often been described as being like a cathedral. At the southern end of the Mall, you come to the large circular plaza and Olmsted flower bed, which is surrounded by elaborate benches with curved armrests. On either side of the flower bed are statues of Christopher Columbus and William Shakespeare. Sheep Meadow and the Chess House are in sight (we’re right between them).

If beauty, high visibility, and “Guy” connections with literature, Spain, Italy, Sheep Meadow, chess, New York, play, and children are taken into consideration, this lovely spot meets all of them. It is also easily accessible and the one area most people going through the park will find easily and take time to enjoy. On balmy nights, there is tango dancing here. Almost everyone who comes to the Park comes here. David Niven and EB White have benches on this plaza.

Sheep Meadow

Janice’s “large flat area” behind the Tavern on the Green is the Sheep Meadow (they used to keep sheep here until the 1930s). Please notice the sunbathers. Sheep Meadow comprises 15 acres of luxuriant green surrounded by oak, elm, maple, and plane trees. It's one of Central Park's "quiet zones" and radio playing and team sports are banned. People come to throw frisbees, fly kites, read, sunbathe, and just plain sit.

I Love Sheep Meadow!

Here I am doing my imitation of Julie Andrews in "The Sound of Music." Welcome to Central Park! Look behind me at the perimeter of the meadow - that's where Guy and Janice would walk into the Park. The Conservancy closes the Meadow in Winter (such as it was this year!), but if six or more inches or more should fall, they open it up for cross country skiing and play. No such luck this year!

The Mall

Just beyond Sheep Meadow is the Mall. Now we're looking north from the Olmsted flower bed through the old elms.Even without leaves, aren't they beautiful? Or with leaves? This is a view of the elms from the head of the Olmsted Plaza through the flower bed They have been described as an "open air cathedral". The Park's designers, Frederic Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux envisioned the Mall as "an open air hall of reception" where people of "all ranks and preferences" would be able to mingle freely and in peace.

Keep walking!